Members of the Mainstage Theater Company recently rehearsed for The SpongeBob Musicial. The show is presented at the Papermill Theater in Todmorden Mills from December 8-12. Photo: Submitted.
By MATTHEW VILORD
What do you get when you take a group of talented young Torontonians on a journey to the bottom of the sea? To quote SpongeBob Squarepants, the big yellow animated sponge we all know and love, you get the ‘best day ever’.
After two years of being banned from dancing and singing live on stage due to COVID-19, a famous Toronto youth musical theater group returns to live production at the Papermill Theater in Todmorden Mills on December 8 with a production from a Broadway hit, The SpongeBob Musical, by Kyle Jarrow.
The SpongeBob Musical was launched in 2016 and received critical acclaim. It won 12 Tony Award nominations in 2018. The musical is based on the popular Nickelodeon animated series with beloved characters such as SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward and many more. It features music by David Bowie, Cyndi Lauper, Lady A, Aerosmith, John Legend and many other popular music stars.
The choice of SpongeBob SquarePants as the musical show to bring the kids back to live performances was quite deliberate according to outgoing Mainstage Artistic Director (now Managing Director of the Ottawa Fringe Festival) Alain Richer.
âSpongeBob is an ambitious production – it’s very difficult musically. It’s also a lot of fun and has an upbeat message to the world, something that kids, and their parents frankly, really need right now. “
According to health experts, COVID-19 has been incredibly hard on the mental health of children and adolescents. Stopping extra-circular activities has contributed to the social isolation felt by children, cut off from important social, physical and emotional outlets.
That’s a sentiment shared by Georgia Helverson, a 12th grade Malvern Collegiate Institute student and cast member, who plays Pearl Krabs.
âThe isolation of COVID has been difficult. It was even hard to feel creative with all the worries and limitations of being together, âshe said.
Ania Rudzik, a 12th grade student who plays the computer Karen, said musical theater has been a huge part of her life.
âI have been with Mainstage since I was 11 and it has shaped me so much to be the person I am today. Mainstage gave me the opportunities and the support to really develop my skills and confidence.
The return to live musical theater has been complicated for the small organization, especially since the youth cohort is aged 11 to 21, necessitating housing children just eligible for vaccinations.
Digital rehearsals, masked and remote rehearsals, and daily COVID testing during the duration of the show kept this production moving forward with its truly talented young actors, many of whom are from the eastern region of Toronto.
Mainstage Theater Company is a non-profit arts education group recognized for the quality of its productions where talented young people have the opportunity to work with professional artistic teams – directors, musicians and choreographers – on productions staged for a live audience.
SpongeBob’s production The Musical by Mainstage Theater Company takes place at the Papermill Theater, 67 Pottery Rd., December 8-12. For more details and to purchase tickets, visit http://www.mainstagetheatre.com
Proof of vaccination is required to attend performances.